Are you tempted to plan a trip in the marvelous Loire Valley and potentially visit some of its cities, such as Saumur? If so, you ought to put Saumur (sometimes mistaken as “Samur, France”) at the top of your list if you want to witness some of the finest Châteaux and an impressive landscape where vineyards, rivers, and Medieval architecture all converge together in the Loire.
Situated only two hours from Paris by train, Saumur is a privileged destination on the Loire Wine Route. With its extraordinary history and grand castles, it has been drawing visitors for centuries to explore its famous cavalry school and vineyards. But what truly sets Saumur apart are the troglodyte caves – over 1,200 kilometers of underground galleries that today primarily house sparkling wine producers and mushroom farmers alike.
When in Saumur for 1-2 days, be sure to check out our list of the top 5 sites you can’t miss! As is usual in France, Winalist will also guide you through some fantastic wine tourism activities to explore the unique terroir found only within Loire Valley’s exquisite wines. So don’t wait – come experience Saumur today!
Visit Saumur: Loire Castles and more
Whether as a family, with friends or on your own, you won’t be deceived if you add these below sites on your checklist!
- Château of Saumur
- Royal Abbey of Fontevraud
- Cavalry Museum
- Mystery of the Faluns
- Most splendid Loire castles near Saumur
1. Saumur Caslte
Property of the Counts of Anjou and then of the Plantagenêts, the building was transformed into a royal fortress at the beginning of the 13th century.
By the latter half of the 14th century, Duke Louis I of Anjou (sibling to King Charles V) had perfected it into a palace-castle. In 1912 after partial renovations were complete, this architectural wonder was unveiled for public viewing. On its first floor lies the Municipal Museum and on second floor can be found the Horse Museum – both classified as Historic Monuments since 1862. As if resisting tumultuous times through its storied existence wasn’t enough; it has been meticulously restored so that future generations will have access to this beloved masterpiece for years to come.
The architecture of the castle has a particularity: the double-revolution staircase which allowed nobles and servants to be able to go up and down in the same place without crossing each other. You can take it by accessing the belvedere in the south wing.
Located in the center of the city, you cannot miss it! It is often the starting point for tourist circuits in the town of Saumur.
2. Visit Saumur Royal Abbey of Fontevraud
Saumur is the largest monastic city in Europe, and just a 20-minute car ride away sits The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. For six centuries this abbey opened its doors to hundreds of religious practitioners before they were forced out by the French Revolution. Napoleon then put it to use as a prison until 1963.
Beyond its captivating architecture, this building is also a vibrant cultural center, having served that purpose since 1975. It has hosted some of the most noteworthy art collections and exhibitions in history along with festivals and conferences for all to enjoy.
At long last, the tombs of Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine are within reach. To spend an entire half-day exploring this impressive Church, its cloister, and all 13 hectares that make up the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is something to be savored! Plus there’s a host of special activities you can take part in during your visit as well.
3. Cavalry Museum
Step back in time, to 1445 and the formation of Charles VII’s Ordnance Companies, with a visit to Saumur Museum. Located on Place Charles de Foucauld at Manège de Saumur stables this historical site will provide an immersive experience as you explore each epic chapter that lead up to the French Cavalry of today!
Immerse yourself in the centuries-long history of France at The Cavalry Museum! Stunning displays showcase tactical and technical details from all periods, inviting visitors of all ages to explore 6 centuries’ worth of stories. Learn more about French military history than ever before and be captivated by this powerful journey through time.
4. Mystery of the Faluns
Carved into stone, the troglodyte cellar serves as an emblem to Loire Valley’s culture and its rivers. It has not only molded breathtaking scenery but also supported a prosperous economy (such as wine) while creating one-of-a kind living environments that are culturally defining.
Journey back 10 million years to explore the Mystery of the Faluns, where Doué-la-Fontaine was once submerged beneath an ocean. During this scenographic walk, be mesmerized by light shows and projections that bring to life centuries of history in these troglodyte cellars. Watch didactic films as you traverse through time and uncover secrets buried within these ancient walls.
The addresse : 7, rue d’Anjou Doué-la-Fontaine 49700 DOUÉ-EN-ANJOU
5. Most beautiful Loire castles near Saumur
Maximize your trip in Saumur by exploring the beautiful Loire castles! The area is filled with remarkable sights and attractions that you won’t want to miss!
Château de Brézé
You will find the Château de Brézé 16km (less than 10 miles) away from Saumur. It’s a former stately home made up of stables, a walkway and huge moats. This large Renaissance château is complemented by neo-Gothic style architecture. Endowed with an exceptional underground heritage, the troglodyte cellars of the Château de Brézé are known as the “Castle under the Castle”. With more than 100.000 visitors each year, the Château de Brézé is one of the unmissable sites in the region.
Château de Montsoreau
Very close to Saumur, the Château de Montsoreau, built in the 1450s, is a French castle in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The building is described as being between the fortified castle and the urban palace, and has the particularity of being the only castle of the Loire built on the river bed. We also recommend that you visit the village of Montsoreau which is classified as one of the “Most beautiful villages in France”.
Visit Saumur wineries: find your wine-activity with Winalist!
Immerse yourself in the heart of the region’s terroirs by enjoying privileged tastings in Saumur wineries and Loire Valley wine estates. The Loire Valley, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, allows you to take several routes through the heart of the vineyards and cellars, between the Loire hillsides and picturesque estates. Winalist offers a selection of activities that will lead you to taste the richness of local grape varieties.
Domaine De Rocheville in Parnay
The Domaine de Rocheville covers 4 different appellations: Saumur Rosé, Saumur Blanc, Saumur-Champigny and Crémant de Loire. On a remarkable site, winegrowers welcome you in their estate for various events and visits throughout the year, in order to make you discover their wines and organic production method.
There will be no more secrets of vines, cellars and art of wine-making that you won’t know. You can even book an electric bike ride in the vineyards of Saumur-Champigny!
Domaine des Champs Fleuris
In Turquant, a small village of 600 inhabitants located in the heart of the Saumur-Champigny vineyard, treat yourself with an unforgettable wine cruise. On an original wooden boat, let yourself be carried along by water and admire ballet of birds – you will explore the region all over again from a new angle!
The tasting of regional specialties is also planned during the cruise, accompanied by a tasting of 6 wines.
Book your Oenological cruise experience at the Domaine des Champs Fleuris!
Enjoy your stay in Saumur, and don’t hesitate to let us know how it went for you!
FAQ & Useful resources
Where to walk around Saumur?
For an interesting stroll in the city center of Saumur, start your visit at Saumur town hall, then rue Molière, quai Lucien Gautier, quai Carnot, rue Chanzy, rue St Nicolas, Place de l’Europe, rue Franklin Roosevelt, rue Saint Jean, rue Dacier, to finish Place Saint Pierre.
What cellar to visit in Saumur?
The best wine cellars in Saumur are the Ackermann, Bouday-Ladubay and Maison Louis de Grenelle cellars in the very center of the town.
How to get to Saumur?
By car by motorway, count 3 hours from Paris, 1h30 from Nantes, 45 minutes from Angers.
By train, Saumur is 2h20 from Paris and 1h15 from Nantes.
How to get to Saumur?
By car on highways, count 3 hours from Paris, 1h30 from Nantes, 45 minutes from Angers.
By train, Saumur is 2h20 from Paris and 1h15 from Nantes.
Where to eat in Saumur?
– Lunch on the go – On Place Saint Pierre, you will appreciate this little bistro as we like them: Le bistro Les Tontons. With a blackboard menu, we recommend the delicious charcuterie platter. In addition, the atmosphere is friendly and the prices are affordable. A nice place for a quick meal!
– Classic dinner: A simple and quite friendly brasserie not far from the Theater and the banks of the Loire. The Brasserie “Le 7” offers classic menus where you can taste different wines from the region. A great place to dine in the evening.
The troglodytes of Saumur and Maine et Loire to visit:
The lowland troglodytes around Doué la Fontaine,
The Mystery of the Faluns,
Rochemenier Louresse site Forge cave houses (we did not visit them),
The troglodyte villages on the banks of the Loire,
Turquant and the Vignolle estate,